Mercedes laid their marker for the rest of the weekend, leading the first session of the day with Lewis Hamilton faster than newly re-signed teammate Nico Rosberg.
As expected, the lap times were fast with Lewis Hamilton clocking a 1:21.3, several tenths faster even than his 2015 pole position time, and that is just on the first session on a Friday. Pole position on Friday could be substacialy faster than that. The time was set on the supersofts, after a damp start to the session which meant most of the drivers went out on the intermediates with a short gap while the teams let the track dry.
Behind the top two, it was like Noah’s Ark, with the teams mainly coming in two-by-two. Ferrari were the best of the rest, although they were a second and a half down on the Mercedes duo, once again also recently re-signed Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Sebastian Vetttel. His former team was behind them, a track they are highly fancied to do well on but they only set their times on the slower soft compound tyre – Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Max Verstappen with a four tenths of a second gap between the two.
It was a fast start to the day for McLaren, although at times erratic for both drivers, the two inside the top ten. Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten.
As we have seen for the past couple of races, teams allowed a couple of their young drivers out during practice – Charles Leclerc was sixteenth for Haas, while Esteban Ocon was eighteenth for Renault.
|5.||D. Ricciardo||Red Bull||01:23.174||28|
|6.||M. Verstappen||Red Bull||01:23.457||27|
|10.||S. Perez||Force India||01:24.073||29|
|11.||N. Hulkenberg||Force India||01:24.120||29|
|14.||C. Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||01:24.579||27|
|19.||D. Kvyat||Toro Rosso||01:25.324||16|